A Fife MP has accused councillors of “political vandalism” in a row over P1 assessments.
Former education chairman Douglas Chapman, who is now the SNP MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, has slammed the current crop of Labour, Lib Dem and Tory councillors following their vote to halt the tests.
Mr Chapman said: “Fife has always carried out some form of assessment in the early years which helps teachers to assess the needs of their pupils and so plan for effective learning.
“This decision by Lib Dem, Labour and Tory councillors which removes a way of assisting teachers to identify learning needs is an act of political vandalism.”
Mr Chapman insisted the Scottish Government assessments would give a “source of rich data” to the council and would ultimately save it money.
And he accused political opponents of “whipping up unnecessary concerns” with parents.
“In Scotland we have a highly professional teacher workforce and any teacher worth their salt, would not carry out these assessments in a way that would create stress in their pupils,”he said.
“The way in which these concerns have been manufactured has been irresponsible in the extreme by people who want to undermine the Scottish Government and education in Scotland.”
His criticism provoked an angry backlash from council co-leader, Labour’s David Ross, who said the MP needed “to get his facts right”.
“When teachers, parents, teaching unions and the Scottish Parliament all raise concerns about the imposition of a national testing approach at P1 level then politicians need to take these concerns seriously and not blindly defend John Swinney and the SNP Scottish Government,” he said.
“If Douglas took the trouble to check properly he will see that we are happy with the approach that Fife has been taking to assessments for the past 10 years and we don’t want a nationally-imposed system undermining good practice in Fife,” he added.
Labour councillor Helen Law said: “If everybody says you are wrong then you usually are wrong – parents, teachers, unions, educational organisations are all saying it.”
Lib Dem councillor James Calder said the response was disappointing but predictable.
“Perhaps he should spend more time paying attention to what teaching professionals have been saying about these assessment and less time attacking political opponents,” he added.
Conservative councillor Kathleen Leslie said his comments were “astonishing”.
“Councillors from all parties, with the exception of the SNP, called for a halt to these tests,” she added.
Fife’s education convener SNP councillor Fay Sinclair and co-leader, SNP’s David Alexander, backed Mr Chapman.
Mr Alexander added there was widespread support for the tests among professionals and the debate should have been about the best interests of children “not the importing of Holyrood politics on to the floor of Fife Council.”